Dwarf possum: a unique marsupial animal
On planet Earth there are about two hundredspecies of marsupial animals. Of these, two-thirds of their homeland is considered Australia. On this continent, due to its isolation from other continents, its unique fauna has been preserved. The most famous Australian marsupials are kangaroos and koalas. But there are other animals that have a skin fold on their belly. The family of opossums also belongs to such. But not everything is so simple. The bag is not in all species. In addition, not all opossums live in Australia. Most of their species live only in the American continent. In this article, you will learn what a small dwarf opossum is. The photo of this cute crumbs will soften the heart even for completely unsentimental people, especially when the baby confidently sleeps in human hands.
Why you need a bag
Despite the different structure of the body, the size,nutrition and lifestyle, most Australian animals have one common anatomical feature. This is a bag, which is a skin fold on the belly of a female. It can be either very deep, or barely noticeable, to open forward or backward. Many endemic species of Australia are united by this anatomical feature that has disappeared from species of animals living on other continents. But at the same time, the opossum marsupial is found not only on the Green Continent and in New Guinea, but also in South and North America. Why is this abdominal cavity necessary? The fact is that the cubs of the marsupials are born underdeveloped. After all, the pregnancy does not last long - 8-40 days. These are actually embryos. For example, in a kangaroo the newborn reaches only three centimeters in length. But they are very tenacious. Newborns scramble to the belly of their mother in search of a bag. There they find a nipple and fall on it for weeks. Even after reaching maturity, the young in the event of danger seeks shelter in the mother's bag. But the opossums showed their uniqueness here. Not all of them have bags. Some of them are equipped with a rudimentary fold, and some do not. For example, the dwarf opossum does not have a brood bag.
Brief description of the family
The family of possums is abouteighty species. Most of them live in the equatorial forests of Central and South America. Outwardly these small animals of 7-50 centimeters resemble mice or rats. As some species have a naked, woolless tail. However, unlike rodents, this appendage plays an important role in the life of the animal. Tail of opossum cling to branches of trees, they also "rule" when jumping. Sometimes it is thickened at the base by deposits of fat. Opossums most often live in the crowns of trees, but there are species leading a terrestrial or semi-aquatic life. They eat mainly insects, but there are also those, whose food is the nectar of flowers. The dwarf opossum (Marmosa murina), also called the Eneva mouse, lives on trees in the rainforests between the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. These animals are active at dusk.
Despite the name, it's not the smallestrepresentative of the family. Its length can reach up to 31 centimeters, of which more than half falls on the grasping bare tail. The coat of the animal is yellowish-gray above, and the abdomen is of a lighter color. Bags, as already indicated, this kind of opossum does not. The animal lives in the crowns of trees - in hollows, hollows under the bark. Eneva mouse is truly omnivorous. Do not disdain and bird eggs. But most of all she likes fruits, as well as a variety of crickets and other insects. The life expectancy of this mouse reaches eight years. The female brings to the litter 10-12 cubs. For want of a bag, babies just hang on her breasts. And when the cubs grow up a bit, they move to the mother's back.
Other types of possum-pygmies
This tiny animal can be called an elf. It feeds exclusively on flower nectar and fruit, like a moth. Meet: oriental dwarf opossum, or dormouse. Its length is 12 centimeters, and eight of them are tail. Sony are active in summer and inactive in winter, for which they received their second nickname. When the opossum eats well, he lays fat at the base of the tail. The dwarf opossum also belongs to dwarfs and dwell in Brazil, Argentina and Peru. He does not have a bag, and his body length reaches 15 centimeters. A record among the Lilliputians is the Chak opossum. The length of his body is only 68 millimeters.
Australian dwarf opossum
In fact, these small animals representa very different family - Burramyidae. And they are called posums. This name was given to animals by James Cook, who described the species representative at the opening of Queensland. Far from biology, the captain compared the new animal with the American possum known to him. But in his notes he made a blot: missed the initial letter "o". So it was fixed for the Australian beast name "posum". Now scientists identify five species of the family Burramyidae. They are found in the east of Australia and in New Guinea. Of these, only one species - mountain couscous - falls into hibernation. The Australian dwarf opossum has a well-defined, forward-opening bag. This animal has large eyes, small rounded ears and a long grasping tail.